"Chocolate has a long sacred history in Indigenous recipes beginning with the Mayans, Aztecs, and other communities of the Yucatán Peninsula, where cacao beans have always grown wild. Cacao has been integral to Indigenous ceremony and cuisine - from drinks to mole sauces and spice rubs."
- Chef Freddie Bitsoie
Have you ever thought about what it would taste like to combine a hearty home-cooked chili with a sweet, chocolate dessert? Well, I had never. But now, as I sit here enjoying this chocolate chili, I wish I had thought about it sooner.
Learn more about cooking with kids.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Amazon links are not affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure.
This chocolate chili with bison recipe is one of many delicious recipes from New Native Kitchen.
It's savory. But sweet. It's dinner. And dessert?? Could be. The cookbook is part of our collection of books by Indigenous authors and we really appreciate all the opportunities to dive deeper into the subject matter while we make our way through modern recipes, such as this chocolate bison chili, that honor traditional Native American food.
We're getting lots of practical life experience in the kitchen mixed with history, science, culture, conservation, delicious dishes, and more.
As we try out recipes and read through this book, we're learning about North America, Indigenous cultures, Native American cuisine, wildlife, and even some lesser-known ingredients.
We like it so much, we've included free printable recipe cards with pictures for pre-readers on up. It's waiting for you at the end of this post or you can use the table of contents above.
What is Chocolate Chili with Bison?
Chocolate chili is a stew that combines chili (beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) with chocolate and includes ground bison. Chocolate can come from several forms, such as cocoa powder or chocolate chips. This recipe calls for semisweet chocolate chips.
Lily's no-sugar-added semi-sweet style baking chips are a healthy alternative to regular semisweet chocolate chips. They are sweetened with Stevia.
Is Bison the Same as Buffalo?
No, bison and buffalo are different. While both are members of the Bovidae family, bison and buffalo are not the same. In fact, they are located in different parts of the world and also have differences in their appearance. Learn more about bison, buffalo, and tatanka.
You can find more information in the cookbook, in addition to a really helpful chart comparing beef vs. bison and which is better.
How Long Should You Cook Chocolate Chili with Bison?
That depends on how you like your chili. We cooked ours for an hour total until it reached the desired consistency. However, you may find you need more or less depending on how thick you like it.
Chocolate Chili with Bison: An Indigenous Food Experience
This chocolate chili recipe is absolutely delicious, it's great for busy families, and it's easy enough for kids to make. It also offers plenty of opportunities to extend the learning. Be sure to grab your free printable recipe and free printable cards with pictures down below.
- Avocado Oil
- Bell Pepper
- Bay Leaf
- Ground Bison
- Black Pepper
- Tomato Paste
- Ground Cumin
- Ground Coriander
- Cayenne Pepper
- Diced Tomatoes
- Kidney Beans
- Bison or Beef Stock
- Semisweet Chocolate Chips
Our local grocery store was out of Lily's chocolate chips so we went for the traditional semi-sweet chocolate chips.
1. Prep the Onion, Garlic, and Bell Pepper
Using a cutting board and knife, chop the onion, dice the bell pepper, and mince the garlic. We used already minced garlic in oil.
If you like peppers, you should try aloo chaat.
Our kids love chopping up ingredients during meal prep. This bell pepper was a lot of fun as we talked about the anatomy of a pepper, including the stem, calyx, seeds, and locules.
2. Gather the Ingredients and Head to the Stove
Grab all the ingredients and head to the stove. Don't forget the cookbook, if you have it. Lots of great opportunities for learning between recipe steps.
We read The American Bison section of the cookbook to learn more about these giant land animals. You can find lots of great info about bison, including their history as well as conservation and restoration efforts, inside the cookbook.
For another great recipe from this same cookbook, try this bread pudding.
Family & Kids' Cooking Resources
Beautiful & diverse cooking resources for you!
3. Turn On the Stove and Add Oil
Turn the stove on medium heat and add the oil.
4. Add Onion, Garlic, Bell Pepper, Thyme, and Bay Leaf
When the dutch oven and oil are hot, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, thyme, and bay leaf.
This is a good time to talk about the plan for the thyme sprigs (if you used them) and bay leaf.
Our kids think it's really cool that you take out the thyme sprigs and bay leaf when everything is cooked. At various points during this experience, they decided to look and see if they could find the bay leaf hidden amongst the ingredients.
This savory cabbage pie combines cooking and baking skills.
5. Stir it all Together
Stir it all together with a spoon. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the mixture is soft.
6. Add the Bison, Salt, and Pepper for Making Chocolate Chili
Add the bison, salt, and pepper to the dutch oven. Use a wooden spoon to break it up and sear the meat. Cook for 8 minutes. Wash your hands.
At this point, our son ducked out of the learning tower to wash his hands after handling the meat. They can hop in and out of the learning tower really easily and I like that it provides a sturdy platform to stand on. This way, they can focus their attention on the stove and not their feet.
7. Add Tomato Paste, Cumin, Coriander, Paprika, Cayenne, and Diced Tomatoes
Using measuring spoons as needed, add tomato paste, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and diced tomatoes. The tomato paste should brown but not burn.
This is also when our kids get creative with tomato paste and storytelling as they tell me they cut their fingers.
Our kids love using measuring spoons. Sometimes they use the leveler that comes with it, and sometimes they prefer their fingers. Our kids are comfortable handling various spices and peppers but you can always assist your child as needed.
Deglaze the bottom of the dutch oven with the juice of the diced tomatoes. In other words, the juice can free up the pieces of food stuck to the bottom of the dutch oven.
8. Add the Beans and Stock
To make the chocolate chili, add the kidney beans and stock to the dutch oven. If you use a 1 or 2 cup measuring cup as we do, this is a great opportunity for math in practical life. The child works through adding a total of 3 cups of stock to the pot.
9. Turn the Heat Up to a Boil
We use medium-high heat for this step. Boil for 5 minutes and then reduce heat to low. Be sure to turn the heat down before the beans lose their shape.
10. Add Chocolate and Let Simmer
Let it simmer uncovered until the chili reduces to a stew consistency. For us, that was about 40 minutes. Give the chocolate chili a good stir occasionally. We ate a few leftover chocolate chips while we waited and explored the cookbook further.
11. Remove the Thyme and Bay Leaf & Enjoy
Turn off the stove. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. Enjoy! We found that being out in nature is a great way to enjoy this incredibly savory and sweet chocolate chili.
We actually made this on a weeknight and enjoyed it for several days as leftovers.
Conclusion for Chocolate Chili with Bison
We hope you enjoyed seeing how we make chocolate bison chili. It's a great meal to make together while learning about Indigenous food. I highly recommend New Native Kitchen for all families, but especially homeschools, as it nurtures a holistic experience with time spent in the kitchen.
Furthermore, if you've ever stressed about what to make for dinner and dessert on an already busy day with 1, 2, 3, 4, or however many littles you have, drop what you're doing and print. this. chocolate chili recipe. Better yet, buy New Native Kitchen by Chef Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli. It's filled with beautiful photography and recipes you will want to try with your family.
Free Chocolate Chili Recipe for Pre-Readers and Up
Don't forget to grab your free printable recipe cards above. Kids can gather ingredients using the ingredient list and prepare the meal using the step-by-step recipe cards, with assistance as needed.
The cards are easy to use, include pictures, and encourage confidence and independence in the kitchen. They also make an excellent addition to your Montessori continent box for North America.
Montessori Continent Boxes
Explore every continent with these solid maple hardwood boxes.
More Native American Educational Resources
More In the Kitchen
- Ethiopian Sambusas: A Printable Recipe with Pictures
- Making West African Jollof Rice with Beans
- Easy South American Food: Bahian Chicken Stew and Free Printable
- Asian Dumplings
- Ukrainian Welcome Bread
- Aussie Barbecue Prawns
- Antarctic Expedition Food
- Thumbprint Cookies for Kids
Chocolate Chili with Bison: An Indigenous Food Experience
- Measuring Cup
- Wooden Spoon
- Learning Tower as needed
- 1 tablespoon Avocado Oil
- 1 Yellow Onion large
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 Green Bell Pepper seeded and diced
- 1 ½ teaspoon Thyme or 3 sprigs fresh
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 lb Ground Bison
- Black Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- 2 teaspoon Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 14 oz Diced Tomatoes with Juice
- 14 oz Kidney Beans
- 3 cups Bison or Beef Stock
- 1 ¼ cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
- Prep the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Using a cutting board and knife, chop the onion, dice the bell pepper, and mince the garlic. Use this as an opportunity to talk about the anatomy of a pepper, including the stem, calyx, seeds, and locules. Compare pepper varieties and the heat associated with each one.
- Gather the ingredients and head to the stove. Don't forget the cookbook. Lots of great opportunities for learning between recipe steps, including sections on bison.
- Turn on the stove on medium heat and add oil.
- When the dutch oven and oil are hot, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. This is a good time to talk about the plan for the thyme sprigs (if you used them) and bay leaf.
- Stir it all together with a spoon. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the mixture is soft.
- Add the bison, salt, and pepper to the dutch oven. Use a wooden spoon to break it up and sear the meat. Cook for 8 minutes. Wash your hands.
- Using measuring spoons as needed, add tomato paste, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and diced tomatoes. The tomato paste should brown but not burn. Deglaze the bottom of the dutch oven with the juice of the diced tomatoes. In other words, the juice can free up the pieces of food stuck to the bottom of the dutch oven
- To make the chocolate chili, add the kidney beans and stock to the dutch oven. If you use a 1 or 2 cup measuring cup as we do, this is a great opportunity for math in practical life. The child works through adding a total of 3 cups of stock to the pot.
- Turn the heat up to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then reduce heat to low. Be sure to turn the heat down before the beans lose their shape.
- Add chocolate and let simmer uncovered until the chili reduces to a stew consistency. Give the chocolate chili a good stir occasionally.
- Turn off the stove. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. Enjoy!
- Cook to internal temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
- See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
- Full Lesson Info and Pictures at: https://happyhomeschooladventures.com/chocolate-chili
Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.